Iversoft, like all companies, is nothing without it’s employees. Yes, we build incredible software, but it isn’t technology delighting our clients at the end of the day — it’s our people. People who know how to wield tech in creative and innovative ways. People who manage projects and timelines with brilliant efficiency. People who care about what they do. 

As the Director of People and Culture at Iversoft, I understand the value of a great team. I’m always looking for kind, talented people to work with us. Then I collaborate with them to create the best possible environment to thrive and grow in. Recently, our efforts to create a better workplace were recognized by Hire Immigrants Ottawa (HIO), who awarded us the 2021 Employer Excellence Award

So what do we do differently? 

Below, I’ll walk you through my formula for creating effective, dedicated teams that produce incredible results.

Summary 

We Recognize That Diverse Teams are More Innovative 

At Iversoft, we create an array of digital products that must work for different kinds of people, including those with visual or hearing impairments, those who live in different geographies and cultures, and those coming from different socioeconomic backgrounds. When a variety of people are represented on our team, it makes it easier to recognize and meet our users’ needs. 
Hiring multinational employees also allows us to understand the various needs and expectations of global clients. According to a Harvard study, when a team member shares a client’s ethnicity, they are 152% more likely to understand them. That’s no small difference! 
When you only hire people who think and act like you, you limit your capacity for fresh ideas. Diverse teams mean diverse perspectives. And diverse perspectives mean more innovative solutions. 
The research on the benefits of organizational diversity is pretty conclusive. Compared to monolithic companies, diverse companies: 

 We attract diverse, talented candidates through a carefully designed, flexible hiring process. 
First, we removed educational requirements from our job posts. But this doesn’t mean we lowered our standards. There are plenty of highly skilled people who don’t have degrees from well-known North American universities or who are completely self-taught. We want to make these people feel confident submitting an application. 
Next, we switched to an all-virtual recruiting process to allow candidates to participate regardless of their location. 
During the interview stage, we base our questions around experience, achievements, skills, and ideas rather than the specific places candidates have worked. And in their responses, we look for indicators that they will be a culture add rather than a culture fit. We ask ourselves what unique contributions each person can make in the role and how this fits with our overarching company goals. 
We also make sure our hiring decisions aren’t all about the interviews. Some of our amazing technical folks aren’t as comfortable in their verbal skills. So, knowing that traditional interviews favour the outgoing and talkative, we also offer take-home technical assessments to give more reserved personalities an opportunity to shine.
Accessibility and comfort are key.

We Hire People With No Industry Experience

When you do the same actions thousands of times, it makes you an expert. However, it also carves deep ruts in your mind that are difficult to escape from on your own. There’s nothing worse for innovation than a team stuck in industry best practices and standard operating procedures. 
That’s why we compliment our tech expertise with hires from other industries who can bring fresh eyes to what we do. It’s our opportunity to collect and adopt the best practices from multiple sectors. Of course, as a tech company, we still have plenty of employees with strong tech industry backgrounds, but it isn’t always required. 
Our non-industry folks have introduced us to new, more efficient ways of doing things that they’ve honed over years of experience in a different environment. They also help us better understand and connect with clients (or our client’s audience) in other sectors. And as tech integration continues, creating more overlap between industries, we have people available to help us and our clients expand into new verticals. With a staff full of tech-industry professionals, we may not notice these incredible opportunities. 
Seeking candidates from outside of tech also expands our talent pool, ensuring we find the best of the best. Sure, that unicorn candidate we’d all love with 20 years of experience doing the exact role would be great — but they probably don’t exist. However, there’s almost certainly someone out there with years of similar experience, a laundry list of transferable skills, and a brain full of exciting ideas just looking for a chance to break into the industry. 
These are the candidates who make Iversoft what it is. 

We Build a Culture of Respect & Support 

When you see a company taking a massive, tone-deaf misstep in the news, one question is on everyone’s mind: wasn’t there someone working there who recognized the mistake before it went public? Sometimes the answer is no. And if you’re looking around your business realizing your vulnerability, I invite you to re-read the section on the importance of diversity above.
But all too often, there are people who know how the mistake will land, they just aren’t empowered to speak up about it. This means all of the benefits you gain by hiring a diverse workforce and hiring outside of your industry disappear.
At Iversoft, we try to live by the value that a good idea can come from anywhere. It’s one of the first things new hires are told during onboarding, it’s proudly listed in the values on our website, and in case anyone forgets, it’s often reiterated by our managers during meetings.
To ensure we live up to this lofty ideal, we offer an exhaustive system of feedback. Whether it’s a one-month or three-month HR check-in, a bi-weekly manager check-in, or our anonymous feedback platform, there are always safe opportunities for our employees to speak their minds. And when they do, we do our best to listen and take matters seriously.
As a result of keeping the lines of communication open, not only have our employees measurably improved our processes, our clients regularly benefit from their immense creativity. 
But our effort to ensure everyone on the team has a voice is just part of our greater effort to build a strong, positive work culture. We’re actively creating an environment that attracts high performers and provides them opportunities to become even better while maintaining a healthy balance in their lives. 
When people are happy in their jobs they produce better work and they’re more dedicated to their position, meaning more of our energy goes toward iteration and improvement than hiring and training replacements. A positive culture also means colleagues like, respect, and most importantly, trust each other, leading to better teamwork and better results for our clients.
To create a positive culture, we aim to hire people who share our values. These are the people who both live those values in their day-to-day work and evangelize them to others.
Conversely, we don’t hire qualified jerks. Skills can be trained, but personality can’t. We’d much rather hire a developer who is weak on a couple of skills but who is determined to improve and can work as a team-player than one who is highly skilled but considers themselves a lone wolf. It’s crucial to recognize the difference in strength you gain as a unified team rather than a collection of individuals.

Conclusion

Your company is your people. So creating exceptional client experiences begins with hiring policies and procedures. At Iversoft, we carefully consider who we could be overlooking in our search and design our hiring practices around finding the people we want to work with.  
We consciously think about the strengths and weaknesses in our team and look for candidates with the right skills and experiences to make us better. 
When people join our team, we trust them to do what we’ve hired them to do. We train our managers to listen, offer support, and encourage communication and teamwork. We aren’t perfect, because no one is. But we’re always striving to be a better version of ourselves and to create fantastic experiences for our employees and clients. 
These are the things we’re doing differently. And so far, the results have been incredible!

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